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FOOTBALL: Cleveland vs Jefferson (9/21/2012)
October 2, 2012Cleveland High School
The Cleveland Warriors broke into the win column with a 26-14 home victory Sept. 21 over the Jefferson Democrats.
Cleveland scored on the game's first possession and never looked back.
The Warriors had a good night passing, completing 10 of 18 for 168 yards and one touchdown. They also ran for 128 yards — most of that on one play late in the game.
The longest play of the night came from senior running back Yadnel Ayala. He raced 75 yards down the sidelines for the Warriors' final touchdown. That TD — and sophomore Jonathon Weaver's 2-point conversion pass to junior Keagan Hammond — gave Cleveland a 26-6 lead with 2:56 left.
The Warrior defense did its part, giving up few big plays in the PIL 5A league clash. Jefferson's final score came with just 12 seconds left.
Cleveland fans stormed the field at the final buzzer, saluting a team that played without some key players, notably seniors Colby Ford and Alex Tracy, who were sidelined by injuries.
In some ways, the game was closer than the final score would indicate. But Cleveland never trailed and was able to stay on top because it had only one turnover and made defensive stops when needed.
Each team had 15 first downs. Cleveland led in total offense, with 296 yards to the Democrats' 236.
The Warriors started fast. They took the opening kickoff and drove 79 yards in 12 plays to take a 6-0 lead.
Wide receiver Weaver hauled in a 41-yard pass from senior quarterback Ryan Senior to get Cleveland to the Jefferson 28-yard line.
A few plays later, Ayala went the last yard for the first of his three touchdown runs.
Near the end of the first quarter, Weaver intercepted a Demos pass. That gave Cleveland the ball at the Jeff 44-yard line.
Now on offense, Weaver hooked up with tight end Hammond on a 27-yard pass play to the Jefferson 18.
Two plays later, Warrior senior fullback Alonzo Parnell took Senior's short pass and barreled to the end zone on a 19-yard scoring play.
Jefferson cut its deficit to 12-6 on the final play of the first quarter.
A pivotal moment for the Warriors came late in the second quarter, when the defense stiffened to thwart a long Jefferson drive. The Demos got to the Cleveland 8 before the CHS defensive line made a key sack on first-and-goal and then didn't allow Jefferson back inside the 20.
Early in the second half, Cleveland denied Jeff a first down on a fake punt.
The Warriors then marched 40 yards in nine plays to take an 18-6 lead. QB Senior hit Parnell with another screen pass, this one for 21 yards, and Ayala did the rest, carrying three times for the final nine yards. Ayala scored on a 1-yard plunge on fourth down with 7:05 to go in the third period.
Jefferson, by now passing on almost every play, advanced into scoring position three times in the fourth quarter, only to come up empty. The Demos reached the Warriors' 32, 29 and 11, but they turned the ball over on downs each time.
Then Ayala ripped off his 75-yard touchdown run and put the game out of reach. He broke to the outside, got to the corner and outran the Jefferson secondary for the backbreaking score.
Ayala finished with 125 yards on 22 carries.
Senior was 9 of 17 passing for 141 yards.
The defense gave up 169 yards in the air — Jefferson completed 15 of 35 passes — but none of the Demos' completions went for more than 30 yards.
Jeff had 10 straight passes fall incomplete from late in the second quarter through early in the fourth period.
And the Warriors held Jefferson's running game to 67 net yards, thanks in part to 32 yards in losses on five sacks by the Cleveland defensive front.